An important characteristic of tumors is that they at some point in their development overcome the surveillance of the immune system. Tumors secrete exosomes, multivesicular bodies containing a distinct set of proteins that can fuse with cells of the circulating immune system. Purified exosomes from TS/A breast cancer cells, but not non-exosomal fractions, inhibit (at concentrations of nanograms per ml protein) IL-2-induced natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity. The dietary polyphenol, curcumin (diferuloylmethane), partially reverses tumor exosome-mediated inhibition of natural killer cell activation, which is mediated through the impairment of the ubiquitin-proteasome system. Exposure of mouse breast tumor cells to curcumin causes a dose-dependent increase in ubiquitinated exosomal proteins compared to those in untreated TS/A breast tumor cells. Furthermore, exosomes isolated from tumor cells pretreated with curcumin have a much attenuated inhibition of IL-2 stimulated NK cell activation. Jak3-mediated activation of Stat5 is required for tumor cytotoxicity of IL-2 stimulated NK cells. TS/A tumor exosomes strongly inhibit activation of Stat5, whereas the tumor exosomes isolated from curcumin-pretreated tumor cells have a lowered potency for inhibition of IL-2 stimulated NK cell cytotoxicity. These data suggest that partial reversal of tumor exosome-mediated inhibition of NK cell tumor cytotoxicity may account for the anti-cancer properties of curcumin. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.